Women Leaders in Philanthropy

What MUHC Foundation President Julie Quenneville wants young women to know

People often ask me what it’s like to lead multi-million dollar campaigns.

Fundraising is a lot more than the ask, but there’s no doubt that it requires confidence and self-awareness to be able to sit down with an individual, or in front of a committee, and make a multi-million dollar pitch. As a female philanthropist, and one often much younger than the people on the other side of the table, it can be tremendously challenging. My work as president of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation has led me to cultivate skills I hadn’t anticipated honing. In my work today, I must be strong, bold and composed. I must not look away, I must be unflinching.

My career began in journalism, and from there I worked in provincial politics, wherein a short time I was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff and Political Advisor to the then health minister. In 2005, I moved into a management role at the MUHC, and my work in strategic development and marketing in the health care domain took off in earnest.

Working in a hospital setting is certainly unique. Simply walking to a meeting, I pass patients being prepped for surgery, people on their way to an appointment where they will receive a life-altering diagnosis, or a new mother leaving from her latest round of chemotherapy. That ever-present essential human drama underscores the work I do, and it reminds me why I strive for excellence each and every day.

I am proud of being recognized as a TOP 100 Award Winner. When I learned that I had been selected, I was initially surprised, but I allowed myself a brief moment to feel the power that comes with recognition like this. There have been times in my career, in my life, where I have felt powerless, and to be named powerful, one of the 100 most powerful in the country, is emboldening.

Leading women forward together

It’s not for myself though that I feel a quickening in my stomach or my spine straightening just a slight bit more, it’s for the women and girls around me every day, the women I pass on my way to the office, my girlfriends, my own daughter, my mother. This achievement, this honour, is for all of us.

Because, we are stronger together.

When women run companies, more women get promoted to senior management positions. When women sit on corporate boards, there is a diversity of opinion and perspective that was previously lacking. When women run for public office, more women vote, and little girls imagine themselves as leaders in their own right.

When we highlight the achievements of some women, we help all believe more is possible.

-Julie Quenneville

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